for my brother, Paul

The aroma of my fresh bag of coffee
takes me to a café in Rome,
where rain sends me inside to sit
and sip and slip into memories.
A Midwestern girl wanted to learn
how to ask for tea in the rain.
“Une tasse du thé, s’il vous plait”
only works in France. There, in
the Louvre, I learned to love art;
all colors taste sweet to a teenager.

The crowded plaza of hope turns
rosy in retrospect. Can we revisit
Rome together? I’ll bring the Blue
Guide, we’ll study the Laocoon, two
sons entangled with their father by
the swollen serpent, a writhing stone
triangle. Family connections snake
around us, bind. Are we a package deal,
tied up in string? The coffee machine
sputters, would laugh if it could.

Ellen Roberts Young’s third chapbook with Finishing Line Press, “Transported,” came out in 2021. She has two full-length collections, Made and Remade (Wordtech, 2014) and Lost in the Greenwood (Atmosphere, 2020) as well as poems in numerous print and online journals. She lives in Las Cruces, NM (Piro-Manso-Tiwa territory).